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McDonnell addresses jobs, roads in Prince William visit

"There is nothing more fun that getting out of Richmond to talk to people," Gov. Robert McDonnell told business leaders Wednesday.
"There is nothing more fun that getting out of Richmond to talk to people," Gov. Robert McDonnell told business leaders Wednesday. (Courtesy Of Prince William Chamber Of Commerce)

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By Jennifer Buske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) stopped in Prince William County on Wednesday, touting his ideas to bring jobs and funding for transportation to the commonwealth.

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"It's great to be here, and there is nothing more fun that getting out of Richmond to talk to people," McDonnell told more than 100 Prince William Chamber of Commerce members at Old Hickory Golf Club in Woodbridge.

In his talk, McDonnell, who was invited to the county by the chamber, also touched on Virginia's $403 million budget surplus, the tough economic times and his ideas for government reform.

"We wanted to bring the governor here to showcase Prince William and connect our members with many of his good ideas," said Laurie Wieder, executive manager of the chamber. "We see it as a good relationship to build."

McDonnell, who is traveling the state to get ideas on how to restructure government, said one of his biggest tasks is to bring jobs to Virginia and cut the 7 percent unemployment rate. Creating incentives for businesses, reducing the capital gains tax and creating a climate conducive to development are key, he said. McDonnell said the General Assembly approved $63 million in new economic development funds so he can "travel the country and travel the world to tell the Virginia story."

Besides emphasizing job growth, McDonnell reiterated his desire to privatize the sale of alcohol as a way to raise money for transportation. McDonnell staff members estimate that privatizing liquor stores could bring in a one-time windfall of $300 million to $800 million, though opponents have worried that ending government liquor sales would dry up a profitable state revenue stream. Two other sources for road funds, McDonnell said, are toll roads and offshore drilling.

"I want to be the energy capital of the East Coast, and I support drilling off the East Coast of Virginia," said McDonnell, who then acknowledged the BP oil spill disaster. "We don't give up after a disaster. We innovate, we regulate and we move forward."

McDonnell personalized the event at the end, thanking the business leaders for soldiering on in tough economic times and promising to help them thrive.

"I appreciate what you do," McDonnell told chamber members. "It's a tough time to be in business, but I want to be able to work with you and get your ideas. . . . Our top priority is to get that 7 percent unemployment rate reduced dramatically, and we are not going to do that by adding government jobs. We're going to do it by helping you."

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